“Oh, Good Lord. Not another one!” I stumbled out of bed to look at the small creature that my daughter had brought inside. She had a habit of bringing every small, furry creature inside to me if it needed tending to. We had nursed multiple motherless bunnies back to health and attempted a squirrel once. That one had been unsuccessful, however, since it was already gimpy when we’d gotten it. We had tried so hard. What was this going to be? God only knew.
“Mom, seriously, it’s two baby squirrels and their mom had her head torn off by a dog. This is serious! You need to help me. You know what to do. You’re their only hope.” She pleaded with me with her beautiful green eyes. I could never say no to those eyes. Damn it. She always got me with those eyes and the pleading. And how then could I say no. This story was too sad for even me.
I looked into her hands which held the box. Within it, there were two baby squirrels. Babies. Not as young, thankfully, as the previous squirrel, which had consumed our time and energy for two months, but non the less, they were infants. They had their eyes opened and had all their fur. Their tails had some fur but very little. Oh my goodness, but they were so darn cute!
As we checked each one over, we discovered they were brothers. One was definitely sick. He was smaller than the other. He was weaker. My daughter was scared and sad, but had faith in my abilities to heal and protect these little buddies from whatever was troubling them. I, on the other hand, was less trusting in my abilities.
We named the tiny squirrel buddies Felix and Dexter. Felix was the sickly one and we unfortunately did lose him. Dexter, however, thrived. Then, one day, Dexter became very ill. My daughter discovered that he had a very common problem that is caused by a lack of calcium in young squirrels. It’s called MBD, Metabolic Bone Disease. She searched the internet for the information. I searched the internet for remedies. We were able to nurse this baby back to health.
Today, Dexter is a young, teenager. He continues to thrive, but can not be released into the wild as we had planned. He is fearless. We had other pets and Dexter isn’t afraid of them. When he is out of his cage, someone always has to be there to monitor the situation. He is completely comfortable around the cats and dogs that would love to eat him. Not a good plan if he was an “outside” squirrel. This was not our plan. We still give him calcium if he becomes lethargic. He seems to need it less and less. Thank God!
Dexter loves to use us a springboard or a perching spot. He likes to sit on my head or my shoulder. His favorite food is avocado. It’s a treat but so is fruit. He lives on specialized squirrel food. Yes, there is such a thing. He lives on produce and loves lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, his formula (still), and anything else we give him. He loves fruit and nuts, especially almonds.
With Dexter around, I’ve discovered what is good for squirrels and what’s not. I know he prefers not to be outside sitting in the grass. He’s afraid of it. He loves to climb, anything! If there is a flat surface, he’s there. He’s used the dog and the cat as springboards too to get from one place to another. Their reactions were that of “What was that?”
Life is crazy around here. I never know what my daughter will bring home next. We are animal lovers and we have big hearts. We are rehabbers and most of the time we can let them go. This little guy, however, it looks as if he’s here to stay. I never thought I’d have a pet squirrel. What is wrong with this picture? I guess nothing. It’s just who we are. God chose us to have a zoo full of little buddies. A very unique zoo, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!